A Year in D.C.

I’m not quite sure that the cemetery they decided to rest your ashes in is actually in the center of Queens.  But standing in front of the majestic mauseoleum, I can see the Manhattan skyline. I see rows of graves on a pleasant incline, a few grand trees offering shade.  On one side of the cemetery is a Queens stuck in the past and on the other side is Queens embracing the future.  The two of you, in the center of it all.  I know you didn’t come all this way to stop here.  I know you would tell me to live.  Breathe deep and then run.  Go and don’t be afraid.

It’s coming up on a year since we left New York.  The decision to leave our life in a hectic city and try out a new, slightly less, hectic city has had it’s highs and lows.  I’m amazed at how a huge disappointment led to a year of learning, exploration, and what feels something like “Chasing the Sun” here in North Virginia/D.C.   I’ll admit, it is not the calm, wooded scene I thought we were looking for.  In fact, a few weeks after we moved here, we were visiting family in North Carolina, enjoying the silence, and hubby says, “I think we made a mistake.”

But it hasn’t been.  Not for either of us.  I gained a whole new perspective in education by working with a forward-thinking school.  It was the jolt to my teaching system that I needed.  Privileged or poor, middle schoolers are in an “all about me” stage.  I got them to see the value in their unique talents and how it makes a positive difference in the world.  

My husband left his accounting job in New York and delved into filmmaking.  Once a hobby, it is now a blossoming career.  He filmed an event recently and I asked him, “Did you enjoy it?” and he quickly responded, “I would have done it for free!”  He filmed Rita Moreno at the Kennedy Center and completed a film program at George Washington University!  Makes that ping-pong table at his old office look really pathetic.  A recent comedian commented that Immigrants have 4 career choices – Doctor, Lawyer, Engineer or Accountant.  I get why he thought being an accountant was a good idea…ok, no I don’t.  Accounting sounds boring as hell.

And the kids?  My 4 year old is studying art techniques and swimming full time.  The 2 year old has perfected his station as Daddy’s best buddy, Mommy’s sweet angel and his Big Sister’s worst nightmare.  He studies trains and dinosaurs at length and can list creatures of the Jurassic better than he can recite his ABC’s.  They’re fine even if, for a while, they kept asking when are we going home? And why does it take so long to get to Gabby and Sophia’s house now?

As I write this, I’m not sure if we are staying or going.  We hope to be going, but still no confirmation.  Staying will be expensive – it’s no cheaper to live here than it was in New York.  In fact, it is more expensive as our kids need private education until they’re both 5!  The cost of pre-school here is somewhere up there with the cost of college tuition.  But staying would mean more learning for me and more career development for him.  Our kids…I’m not worried about keeping them home a bit longer.  I can’t see my 2 year old sitting in a classroom anyhow.

Grandma, Grandpa, I can’t say I will visit you here often because, I know you’re not here.  You’re somewhere beyond the sun, soaking in the rays, hand in hand. You’re looking at me half smiling and half laughing because you already know what will happen.  Your children all left at some point.  Two joined the Navy.  Two went home to Ecuador.  The two girls off and married.  Each and everyone came back, eventually.  Even the one uncle, the one who headed off to Texas and seemed to never come back – he’s back now.  Now! Even though you’re gone.  And I don’t think he’s leaving again.  It’s not even about New York.  Screw New York.  it’s about you.  We all just want to be near you.  Someday, I will be back too.

So what has life been like in a new city?  What’s it like to pick up and leave New York after  30+ years of living there?  The series of posts to follow will give you an idea of the ups and downs of moving your family to a new city, DC, and life outside of New York.  

Grandma, Grandpa, and Mom in the 1970’s.

I’ll be channeling Sara Bareilles as we go as she seems to be singing my soul right now.

https://youtu.be/hNkmQmh3zww?list=RDhNkmQmh3zww

Chasing the Sun – Sara Bareilles

It’s a really old city

Stuck between the dead and the living

So I thought to myself,

Sitting on a graveyard shelf

As the echo of heartbeats,

From the ground below my feet

Filled a cemetery

In the center of Queens…

You said, remember that life is

Not meant to be wasted

We can always be chasing the sun!

So fill up your lungs and just run

But always be chasing the sun!

All we can do is try

And live like we’re still alive

All we can do is try

And live like we’re still alive


***Update***

Confirmed to depart for my 1st teaching job abroad on August 3rd!

Love Not Hate Makes America Great

I had every intention of marching today.  But the kids need to have passports done within 2 weeks.

Long story short:

  • You can only walk in for passports at 2 locations in North Virginia:  Duke Street Library and Merrifield Post Office.
  • You must have original birth certificates for children.
  • You must be prepared to wait at least 2 hours.  Duke Street Library is a much nicer location to wait.
  • You should probably not have a major event to attend like The Women’s March on Washington.

By the time we made it out of there, the March was well underway but we were tired, hungry and a lot closer to being broke until payday.  I am grateful for the fire this movement lit in my heart and millions of others.  Life for women everywhere is tough because the weight of the world lies literally on our shoulders!  As mothers, teachers, nurses and beyond!  The Mayor of DC said it best, “The women will tell you that we are more harshly criticized. We are more frequently criticized. And we are more wrongly criticized at every single level – be it the school board, be it the statehouse, or candidate for the president of the United States.”


Why I March (Or would have)

Women’s March, January 21st.

  • I am marching because teaching, a female dominated profession, is constantly under attack, under valued and underpaid.
  • I am marching because mothers are torn away from their 6-week-old babies and forced to return to work or suffer loss of income due to insufficient maternity leave.
  • I am marching because without a cure for breast cancer, too many children have lost their mothers.
  • I am marching because too many mothers have seen their sons killed for nothing more than the color of their skin. 
  • I am marching because there are families trying to survive in refugee camps while they wait for borders to open. 
  • I am marching for students who want to go to college but can’t afford it because  the Dream Act has never passed.   
  • I am marching for my students who have been mocked for their Muslim faith, dress and modesty – all things that should be cherished here in America. 
  • I am marching because I want my daughter to know the power of women who support each other and to believe she can accomplish ANYTTHING because she can. 
  • I want my son to know every woman deserves respect, to always be a gentleman, and to always help those in need. 
  • I am marching on January 21st in Washington DC. 

March with me.


Dear Sally,

“Dear Sally…”

I’m posting from a dorm room at Columbia University, my home for the next week.  Yeah, I know, Felicity was supposedly attending NYU but this has the same vibe.  I’ve got suite-mates from around the country, a really hard twin bed, and a meal plan with my student ID card.

I was selected to attend a Gilder Lehrman Seminar at Columbia University back in May…just after accepting the job in Abu Dhabi.  I remember worrying that I might not be able to attend because this is the same week teachers were told to be prepared to leave.  We would have been leaving this Thursday, in fact.  A number of teachers have received their “Golden Ticket” and are on their way!  Congrats to them!

This week I will not be put up in a 5 star hotel nor will I have to deal with 130 degree weather.  Instead, I am in a tiny dorm room around the corner from Teachers College at Columbia University with 93 degree weather.  Pretty hot for NYC!  This particular seminar focuses on the history of immigration in the US.  For one whole week, I will be attending classes, going on field trips and designing lesson plans on immigration.  Oh, did I mention, I’m living in a dorm room?

Cozy…

The professor, Mae Ngai, wrote The Lucky Ones, a book on Chinese Immigration in the late 1800’s.  The concept of migrating as a calculated move to better one’s situation resonates so much with me right now. Here are my choices:

A) International School in Washington DC

B) Gifted Program in Chapel Hill, NC

C) Middle School English position in an affluent neighborhood in McLean, VA

I feel like I cast too wide of a net, but isn’t that what you’re supposed to do when seeking a job?  I had no idea I’d have to weigh so many options.  Which do I choose?  Figuring hubby can work anywhere, we have family in each location, and each offer a fair salary for the cost of living…which do I choose?

As I walked back into class after getting the call that I’d been hired in NC, I got mixed reviews from teachers from the south.  “Aw that’s a beautiful place to live!” and “You DO NOT want to go there.”  From the one teacher that was actually from North Carolina, all she could say over and over was that, “It will be a culture shock.”

What do you think?

You may be asking, “Why not stay in New York?”  The pay and benefits surpass all other options.  That’s what my peers are asking.  “Why do you want to leave New York?”

I tell them about Abu Dhabi and explain, “We were going to leave anyway.  Might as well take advantage of all our prep work and go ahead and move.”  We may never be this prepared to move again.  It might even be now or never.  Felicity Porter could have stayed, gone to Stanford, and become a doctor.  It made sense.  Instead she foolishly followed a boy to New York.  I don’t want to be foolish, but I can’t not explore these options.

Technically, we’ve already left New York.  On June 30th we put the rest of our belongings into storage and began our family road trip.  We traveled up to New York’s Hudson Valley and down to Baltimore, MD.  We’ve enjoyed Shenandoah National Park in VA and the food scene in Georgetown, DC.  Last week we were laid back in Durham, NC until we crossed paths with a garden snake.  That may be a sign from God right there.

We are still not ready to make a decision as to where to call home. There’s only one thing that is certain:

Sometimes, in order to teach in New York City, you have to leave it for a little while.

Shenandoah National Park